A while back I published an article about disruptive innovation. The primary message is: you can and should monitor the career landscape in which you find yourself. This is true both today and in the probable future. Any situation can affect your chosen career for a number of reasons not the least of which is job automation.
While you may want to spend all your working years in one industry, if not one job, that industry, that job may not be around as long as you’d like/need it to be. There will be too many changes for that not to be true.
The impacts of job automation
The first question in the Economist article suggests a dark employment cloud for many, the result of job automation.
“Will smarter machines cause mass unemployment?””
The article cites a 2013 study by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne. This article computed the probability of American workers being automated out of their current jobs.
They estimate that 47% of current American jobs are at high risk of ceasing to exist due to job automation. The article goes on to say, based on other equivalent studies, the expected British and Japanese job loss percentages will be 35% and 49%, respectively.
Automation will impact many different jobs
And don’t for a minute assume that your job, which required a college degree, possibly even an advanced degree, will not be subject to job automation. The Benedikt Frey/Osborne study computed the probability of automation of over 700 different jobs.
No surprise that telemarketers are at the top of the list. Many of those jobs are already done by machines. However, right behind them are accountants, auditors, and technical writers. And close to them, commercial pilots, economists, even actors.
As the article quoting Stanford academic and author of “Humans Need Not Apply” suggests, job automation is “blind to the colour of your collar.”
The human touch
Machines put those tasks which involve routine repetition at greater risk. However, jobs lost are often offset by the increased need for other tasks, done better, or only, by humans.
The day may come when a gym membership will include an automatic computer-generated assessment of your fitness. What automation is not able to supply is empathy. Sincere emotion is unique to humans. As a result, humans must continue to have a role.
Not bad news – just change
You may see job automation as bad news but that isn’t necessarily so. There will always be a need for human involvement and the quality of jobs carried out by humans may well improve.
However, there is a catch. You simply cannot expect to find alternative work where none exists. If the industry in which you work changes, and all and everything is subject to change, you must change with it.
As my previous article concluded, you won’t be able to correctly identify all that may happen. Nevertheless, it’s your responsibility to observe, study and plan for what could be your new future.
William Matthies founded Coyote Insight in 2000 to help start-ups as well as established companies and brands plan for profitable growth.
In 1986 he founded what was to become the largest independent market research/database marketing company in the consumer electronics and high tech fields. By the time he sold The Verity Group in 1997, the company employed 400+ people at its California and Costa Rica offices.
Today he serves on corporate advisory boards lecturing frequently at industry events around the world on managing change, strategic planning, and customer relations.
William’s spare time is spent seeking out experiences that change his perspective, while at the same time having great fun. A few years ago, he visited Russia for a Mach 2.5 flight in a MiG 25 supersonic aircraft flying to 80,000 feet, the edge of space. Want details? Contact him, he’ll be happy to tell you about it!